IP Camera Fun

In the first installment I shared my initial experience with wireless security cameras and a network video recorder (NVR).

In a matter of weeks it became obvious the wireless camera idea wasn’t going to float. While installation was a breeze (so far I had not ventured into the attic!) the reliability of the signal was far from ideal. I’m sure if our house was less rambling or made of different materials this would not have been an issue… so your mileage may vary.

Eventually I resigned myself to stringing cable across creation.

While it’s a pain to run cables all over the place, the reliability and performance of your cameras are GREATLY improved. The trick to a wired camera installation is a technology called Power-Over Ethernet (POE). This allows the ubiquitous network cable to double as a carrier of data AND power for the camera. You can safely run Cat 6 cable up to 300 feet, which can accommodate the most sprawling abode. The only catch is you’ll need a POE hardware on the other end of the cable. Either a POE switch or “injector” to provide the necessary voltage required by the camera. I prefer a switch so you can expand as needed, but if you are only going to hook up one or two cameras the injector is fine.

This Gets Good- Axis Companion

I quickly discovered almost all industrial-strength security cameras use POE. Wireless connectivity is the exception and reserved for hard-to-reach locations. Soon thereafter I discovered a brand called Axis Communications. The company is Swedish and designs commercial camera systems for all sorts of installations. The quality is impressive. Plus, they offer a software package called Axis Companion to manage your cameras, recordings and image capture. It’s free!

Consumer equipment typically relies on cloud storage and/or subscriptions to store your recordings. Using tools like Axis Companion it’s easy to store everything onsite for free. The best feature of the Companion software is it securely handles the complex connectivity required to view your cameras via the Internet.

axis-companion-screens

The software is simple to set up and use. Now we can access a live view or recorded footage from our desktop or via the free app for Android or iOS. With the network-attached storage (NAS) connected to our router the footage is stored locally and the cameras even work when the Internet doesn’t.

Conclusion…
Consumer-grade cameras might make setup easy– but are usually lacking in quality, features and capability. Plus, many of them will cost more in the long run because you must pay to store recording footage or add features. My advice is shop around for used commercial hardware. A three-year old Axis camera is far superior to anything you’ll find at a big box or wholesale club.

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